FOXBOROUGH — It wasn’t the first time the Bills had been displeased with Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. In the first game this season between New England and Buffalo, Spikes laid a hard hit on tight end Scott Chandler, a hit that was still fresh in their minds when Spikes smashed into quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
The hit drew a roughing-the-passer penalty, and an expletive from Fitzpatrick toward Spikes. It drew an equally strong reaction after the game.
“We’re not going to back down from anybody. Spikes is an emotional player,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think he’s a punk at times. He took a cheap shot at Scott in the first game, and he was doing a lot of jabbering and talking and getting out there.
“Not one of my favorite players. Not high on my list.”
Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only Bill to have a strong reaction.
Center Eric Wood called Spikes a “headhunter,” and added, “I guess he was trying to take Fitz out of the game.”
The play in question came on second and 4 in the fourth quarter. The hit knocked Fitzpatrick’s helmet off, though the quarterback did not appear to suffer any ill effects.
Fitzpatrick stood up after the play and walked toward Spikes. An official got between the two with his arms outstretched.
Spikes was assessed a $21,000 fine for the illegal block on Chandler in the first meeting.
That wasn’t the only hard hit Spikes delivered on Sunday. He forced a fumble by Fred Jackson, also in the fourth quarter, which the Bills recovered. Jackson was injured on the play.
Running back Danny Woodhead had the first two-touchdown game of his career, scoring on a 15-yard run in the second quarter — his only carry of the game — and an 18-yard pass from Tom Brady in the third quarter.
A pretty good day?
“It was a pretty good day because we got the W. That’s really the only thing that matters,” said Woodhead, who has four touchdowns this season. “Two touchdowns, whatever, that’s not the most concern. It’s getting the win, and we got the win. The team comes so far before myself.”
Both of Woodhead’s scores gave the Patriots 14-point leads. He finished with four receptions (he has 18 catches over the last four games) for 46 yards. He even added a little flair, producing a quick shoulder shake after scoring untouched on the run.
“I don’t know where that comes from, maybe [Stevan] Ridley wanted me to do something like that and I didn’t even notice I did it,” Woodhead said.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, acquired Nov. 1 from Tampa Bay, served the last game of a league-mandated four-game suspension, and will be eligible to play Sunday against the Colts. The acquisition may have raised a few eyebrows, only because Talib’s reputation — multiple run-ins with the law, suspensions — is far from sparkling.
Team president Jonathan Kraft, appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub before the game, was asked about the team’s newest addition to the secondary.
“The football side of the operation here, as everybody knows, is [coach Bill Belichick’s] area of responsibility, and I think he’s earned the right to have a fair amount of autonomy in making decisions like [Talib] and others, where the organization isn’t risking huge amounts of our assets, meaning our money over the long term or high draft picks, to bring somebody in who he believes can help the football team,” Kraft said. “If that person, when they’re here, violates a code of standards about how you’re supposed to carry yourself when you’re a New England Patriot, he won’t be here for very long.
“I think it’s safe to assume that he’ll understand what’s expected when you walk in this locker room. He won’t just hear it from Bill and from us, but I think veteran players will tell him what it means to be a Patriot.”
As expected, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was active for the game, making his Patriots debut one day after coming off injured reserve. Shiancoe, signed July 25 after four seasons with the Giants and five with the Vikings, was placed on IR Sept. 5, but designated under a new category that allowed him to return.
Shiancoe’s availability took on a more urgent tone when it became official that Aaron Hernandez would miss another game with a lingering ankle injury. Hernandez, injured in the home opener Sept. 16, has had a slow, inconsistent recovery. He sat three games, returned for two, and now has been inactive for two, despite practicing.
Shiancoe played sparingly on Sunday, and did not have a pass thrown his way.
“Great to be back,” Shiancoe said. “Just to get my feet wet a little bit. Thank God.”Continued...